Is it just me, or did 2018 seem insanely long? Black Panther came out this year. THIS YEAR. Whether 2018 was good to you, or you're ready to bid it farewell, you have reason to celebrate. I often feel like there's a lot of pressure surrounding New Year's Eve — what should you do, where should you go, who should you go with, etc. etc. Well, we've pulled together a somewhat comprehensive list of options here in C-U and beyond that might help you with those decisions, should you decide to head out on the town for the evening. Whatever you decide, cheers to a fresh start in 2019, and for goodness sake please drink responsibly and take advantage of the Uber and the Lyft and such. 

— Julie McClure, Culture Editor

For dining out...

If eating good things is most important to you on NYE — and really eating good things should be an essential part of any holiday — then there are several local restaurants where you can do just that. Many restaurants will be open and serving up their regular menus, just be sure to double check hours. Here are some that have special menus that you might want to try. 

Allerton NYE Celebration

Allerton's NYE event is already sold out, but you can still take part in their special dinner offering from 6 to 8 p.m. For $75 you get a 4-course dinner with complimentary wine. 

Bacon Wrapped Dates, & Cranberry Chili Cheese Spread
Arugula Pear and Blue Cheese Salad
Fennel Crusted Rib Roast with Pomegranate and Hazelnut Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Fried Cream Cheese Xango

Black Dog Smoke & Ale House/Big Thorn Beer Dinner

I've done this dinner several times, and the addition of Big Thorn seems like a marvelous idea. Reservations are required for both locations — Champaign has staggered seatings between 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and Urbana has two seatings, 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. 


Enjoy the regular menu or the specials listed below. Reservations are recommend, they are open from 5 to 10 p.m.


At Silvercreek $59.99 gets you a 3-course dinner, and there will also be live music. Reservations are required; dinner will be served from 5 to 10 p.m.

The Dancing Dog Eatery & Juicery

NYE doesn't have to be all steak and seafood. Dancing Dog is offering up a 3-course vegan menu for $35 per person, including dessert and your choice of juice, soda, house wine, or beer, as well as an after dinner coffee or tea. Call 217-552-1344 for reservations.

1st course:
Roasted red pepper bisque
Brussels sprout, avocado, pomegranate seed, pepita and lemon salad

2nd course:
Dates stuffed with cashew chevre and coconut bacon
Spinach artichoke dip with crostini

3rd course:
Grilled portabello mushroom cap, sautéed arugula, roasted garlic polenta, rosemary white bean ragu
Braised seitan, smashed red potatoes, mushroom gravy, green beans, caramelized red onion, red wine reduction

The Wheelhouse

Head over to St. Joe for a champagne cocktail and 7-course dinner (with wine pairings), and stay for dancing until midnight. The experience is $100 per person, call 217-469-6252 for reservations. 

~Roasted Rainbow Trout, Lemon, Almond, Miso Butter
Pinot Grigio

~Milk Braised Willow Creek Farm Pork, Beans, Blue Hopi Cornbread with Aji Dulce Peppers

~Root Vegetable “Coq Au Vin”
Pinot Noir

~WheelHouse Coffee Marinated Flank Steak, Greens, Potato, Cabernet, Balsamic
Cabernet Franc

~Grilled Lobster Tail, Raspberries, Lobster Butter

~Hot Chocolate Ice Cream, Sweet Potato, Chilis,

~Champagne, Bubblegum, Vanilla

Epiphany Farms Chef's Grand Tour Tasting

If you'd like to venture a bit beyond C-U, here's a tasty option in Bloomington-Normal. Nine courses for $79, with optional wine pairings, featuring local ingredients. Reservations required. 

Bakery & Pickle Ultimate New Year's Eve

Epiphany Farms' sister restaurant (also in B-N) will offer two types of experiences: one for those who are more interested in dining, and one for those more interested in partying. Each is $75, but if you come for dinner and would like to stay for the party, you can do so for half price. Reservations required for both. 

For drinking, live music, entertainment, and late night revelry...

Oh so many of our local (and beyond local) drinking establishments and music venues will be celebrating the end of 2018 — there really is something for everyone out there, whatever your vibe may be. Here are some options for you. 

Seven Saints: Speakeasy at the Saints

An annual tradition at Seven Saints, where the details are always rather vague, surely to entice you to go find out more. 

The Iron Post: Zecca Bom, Relevator, Paul Kotheimer

A trio of awesome bands are performing at the Iron Post — a couple of which made splashes on our year-end lists. Zecca Bom and Kenna Mae (of Relevator) in BEST Music, and Relevator on our top albums of the year list. Paul Kotheimer is always a treat as well. It'll cost you $10 to enter, and the show starts at 9 p.m.


The Canopy Club: Sun Stereo, Trouble Chasin’

Canopy's annual bash with Sun Stereo for NYE has arrived. Rap duo Trouble Chasin' opens up, and there's going to be performers from Defy Gravity to join in on the fun here. There's a $30 cover but that gets you free well drinks and select drafts, as much pizza and empanadas as you can stomach from Manolo's from 9-11 p.m., and champagne at midnight.

Pour Bros Craft Tap Room: Harvest Sons

Pour Bros is celebrating their first NYE in Champaign with a performance from Harvest Sons, who hail from Peoria (where the other Pour Bros is located). It is free to attend, and music starts at 9 p.m.

Bentley's Pub: DJ Nico

DJ Nico is the same Nico who fronts The Dry Look, and he'll be spinning vinyl all night at Bentley's in Downtown Champaign. There are a couple of sections of specials: $1 off drafts all night, and $1 off a few types of domestic drafts and some discounts on White Lie shots (so good!) for Happy Hour from 4-6 p.m. There's no cover, and music starts at 10 p.m. from DJ Nico.

Guido's: Carnivale Debauche

Carnivale Debauche is always a good time, and the burlesque show hits Guido's for NYE. The cover charge is $15 advance and $20 at the door, and the show starts at 10 p.m. Check out the Facebook event above for more details about tickets and such.

Crudo Wine Bar: Cabaret

Crudo opened at the very tail end of 2017, and they've been hosting performances throughout 2018, so this could be fun for all you wine drinkers out there. They mentioned in the Facebook event that they sold out of tables to this last year, so you best move on it if you're going to go for it.

The City Center: Feudin’ Hillbillys, Garrett Biggs

Leave it to the City Center to have a country show (that's not a jab, just a fact), and local crew Feudin' Hillbillys headline a familiar stage for NYE. There are a variety of ticketing packages available between $25-$60, so if you want to ball out, there are VIP tickets available. Music starts at 8 p.m.

Nightshop: Melvin Knight & The Amber Sky, Franky & the Plexicats, Grill Bilyenz

If you're heading to Bloomington-Normal for NYE, there's a local act that you should absolutely check out — Melvin Knight and the Amber Sky. Melvin Knight's Shades of Us topped our year-end album list, as a matter of fact, so this is an easy one to endorse. Surely there's a cover charge, but there wasn't one listed on the Facebook event, so plan on bringing some dough to help out the artists. Show starts at 8 p.m.

Esquire Lounge: Kilborn Alley, Morgan Powell

There's usually some form of a jazz/blues show at Esquire on NYE, and sure enough they pulled through this year. Morgan Powell's Jazz Band will perform from 5-8 p.m., and the local staple Kilborn Alley Blues Band performs from 9:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m. All of that will cost you $0.

Bunny's Tavern

No cover, Italian dinner specials beginning at 5 p.m., DJ beginning at 9 p.m, and drink specials throughout.

Collective Pour: Mike & Kayla

Like Pour Bros, Collective Pour opened in 2018, and they are celebrating their first NYE in Downtown Champaign with a couple of local staples, Mike Ingram & Kayla Brown performing as Mike & Kayla. This one is also free, and music starts at 8 p.m.

Soma: Kristen Toomey

Chicago comedian Kristen Toomey was down in Champaign-Urbana for PYGMALION, where she opened for Janelle James at the Iron Post. She'll be back through via C-U Comedy's NYE show at Soma. There aren't many tickets available for this, so if you're interested, we'd recommend moving quickly. She was a total gas back in September. It'll cost you $25 to enter, and the show starts at 8:30 p.m., where surely there are other comedians to join.

Blackbird: DJ Tim Williams

The always-solid DJ Tim Williams is spinning at Blackbird in Downtown Urbana starting at 9 p.m. It'll be free to enter, so there's little risk in checking this out at some point if you're around.

Jupiter's at the Crossing: 90's Daughter

Last year, 90's Daughter packed Jupiter's at the Crossing, so I'd imagine this year will be similar. There are a variety of packages for dinner, open bar options, and more if you're interested in exploring. Don't be silly by driving afterwards if you've been consuming — there's free overnight parking available.

Boomerang's: Candy Foster & Shade of Blue

Candy Foster has been performing around town for many, many years, and it is no surprise that Boomerang's will have him and his band gracing their stage. Cover is $5, and show starts at 8 p.m.

For the kids...

Noon Day Drop at Orpheum Children's Science Museum

We get it, some of you have young ones at home and babysitters can be elusive (and expensive) on NYE. For you families, the Orpheum offers a mid-day party from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. so that everyone can be a part of the New Year's Eve fun. Then you parents can put the kids to bed at 8 p.m., order some food, and attempt to stay awake to watch the ball drop. Admission is $8 for non-members ($28 for a group of 4), $6 for members. 

Bring your family for the annual Noon Day Drop Celebration at the Orpheum where you and your kids can celebrate the New Year at noon! Everyone will be decked out in party hats and noisemakers as sounds of the season float through the air. Noon Day Drop includes craft activities, music, crazy hats, noisemakers, a countdown to the big event, and a drop of more than 5000 balloons at the strike of noon.

This guide was compiled by Julie McClure and Patrick Singer.